- Ever wonder why intimate relationships are so fragile?
- Ever wish someone would just hand you a reliable set of instructions for relationship harmony?
- Ever feel like a malevolent force was undermining your love life despite your desperate efforts?
The problem lies in your biological blueprint. As a human, you are designed to mate with passionate fireworks, bond for a time...and then separate and begin the mating dance anew. For example, in her book Anatomy of Love, anthropologist Helen Fisher found the same dreary pattern in 58 cultures. Divorce, or its equivalent, peaks in year four (except in Islamic cultures where divorce is easy...there the peak occurs within a year).Why? Evolutionary biologists would say it's because of all the fun (and babies) that our ancestors had. Evolution favored reckless procreation and changing partners (genetic variety) because these traits passed on the most genes. (This is the same biological phenomenon that the porn industry uses to exploit people. If you are struggling with porn addiction, you may want to start here.) Staying married is no guarantee that you have successfully defied your biological programming. This same separation often creeps into once-happy unions in the form of out-of-sync libidos, addiction, infidelity, irrational hostility, and growing incompatibility.1 Ohio State University research doctor Kiecolt-Glaser selected only the happiest, most well-adjusted four percent of 2200 newlywed couples for an experiment measuring stress hormones in marriage. She found that "declines in marital satisfaction" were standard within the first two years of marriage - even among her carefully-chosen couples who had everything going for them and had lived together or dated for several years. By the end of her study, 20 percent of these "highly healthy, blissful couples" were already divorced. Is it surprising that the US Census Bureau predicts that nearly one of every two marriages now occurring will end that way? (Those who are determined to stay married should have a look at Marriage: It's Only Going to Get Worse.) Clearly we're up against a powerful, subconscious program. Has something changed? No, although the problem is more glaring now that divorce is virtually stigma-free. Leo Tolstoy wrote graphically about the phenomenon of mysterious disharmony between marriage partners more than a century ago. (Also see these sacred sex classics.) Could this unhappy pattern be related to the fact (revealed by DNA tests) that no animal species are sexually monogamous - although some hang-out together for life with a bit of fooling around on the side? Clearly evolution - as opposed to the individual human - is best served by "extra-pair bonding."
The pressure to separate and begin the mating dance anew is evident. Yet, like three percent of all mammal species, we humans have a second subconscious mating program, which conflicts with the first. We are wired to fall in love, and stay that way...at least for long enough that we are likely to bond with our children and help raise them. We are jacked up on special honeymoon neurochemistry that includes higher dopamine, adrenaline and nerve growth factor, lower serotonin (which can make us obsessed with someone) and changes in testosterone that help sync up lovers' sex drives. Italian researchers have discovered that after about two years (at the longest...), this biological booster shot wears off. Those changes often coincide with a drop in libido toward one's existing partner. At the same time, one is more susceptible than ever to finding a potential new partner delicious. Yet thanks to our "pair-bonding" program, we find close trusted companionship with a mate highly rewarding, and protective of health. In fact, numerous studies reveal that couples in long-term, reasonably-harmonious relationships experience greater psychological well-being, lower rates of illness and addiction, swifter recovery, and increased longevity. Clearly, we have the capacity to bond for life. Friendships and our love of our children and pets don't erode in the dreary predictable pattern of our romances. So how does biology so often pull our strings at the expense of our precious intimate relationships? It manipulates our brain chemistry. Especially after the honeymoon period, passionate encounters leading to sexual satiety ("enough already!") over-stimulate the reward circuitry of the primitive brain, triggering temporary "hangovers." These recurring lows push couples apart at a subconscious level. For details see Science.
A person's approach to sexuality is a sign of his level of evolution. Unevolved persons practice ordinary sexual intercourse. Placing all emphasis upon the sexual organs, they neglect the body's other organs and systems. Whatever physical energy is accumulated is summarily discharged, and the subtle energies are similarly dissipated and disordered. It is a great backward leap. Lao Tzu, Hua Hu Ching circa 300 BC
What are we to do? Learn to overcome the neurochemical separation mechanism outlined above, and emphasize the signals that strengthen our pair-bonding program. Since the time of ancient Chinese Daoist master Lao Tzu, the same wisdom about how to manage our sexual energy better has bubbled up periodically in different cultures and at different times. For example, the Gnostic Christians and Alice B. Stockham, MD (Karezza ) both taught that ordinary intercourse, with its emphasis on sexual satiation, causes separation and estrangement between partners and chaos in society. For details see Wisdom. These traditions recommend making love without conventional orgasm, and insist that the result is improved health, greater harmony between partners, increased moral strength, and even a decrease in cravings and impulsive behavior. In our experience, gained over a decade, these sages are right.
We believe that the reason they are right is that this gentler, non-goal-oriented lovemaking balances our neurochemistry, keeping us off of biology's roller coaster of intense attraction (leading to sexual satiation) followed by aversion or separating behavior. It also strengthens emotional bonds between partners, because an exchange of nurturing "cues" (behaviors) is a subconscious signal to our mammalian brains to bond emotionally. (This program is the same one that bonds mammalian infants to their caregivers, but all of us are programmed to find these behaviors rewarding.) Like past explorers, we've experienced health improvements, deepening emotional bonding, lighthearted harmony, and healing of addictions and depression. For others' experiences see visit Welcome to "Karezza Korner".
Ready to give serious consideration to an approach that promotes harmony and discourages carelessly-conceived progeny? Start by staying informed about relevant neuroscience discoveries and related wisdom of the past. Watch a forty-minute slide presentation that explains how humanity's mating and bonding programs clash, or watch a short YOU Tube video. Join our forum and blog. Start with a series of short articles about these concepts. Or try the ideas for yourself.
Various books, some available free at this site, contain descriptions of this ancient approach to lovemaking. So does Cupid's Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships (excerpts available). It contains a simple step-by-step programs of Ecstatic Exchanges for couples who want to outwit biology to strengthen the harmony in their relationships. Start an empowering adventure. Become aware of biology's tricks. Learn about the true potential hidden in intimate relationships.
- 1. Marital happiness tends to decline steadily and without ceasing...until death does you part. See Marital Happiness, Marital Duration, and the U-Shaped Curve: Evidence from a Five-Wave Panel Study (17-year study showing decline in marital satisfaction)